Maksym Kopystko
Member and mentor of the FireWay team, which took victory in the largest international space Hackathon NASA Space Apps Challenge 2020 (NASA Space Apps Challenge is a 48-hour competition for engineers, programmers, designers and space technology enthusiasts) in the 'Best Use of Technology' category. There are six members of the FireWay team, amongst whom there are engineers, astrophysicists and developers: Roman Malkevych, Olena Kompaniiets, Ivan Hryshko, Maksym Kopystko, Dmytro Ivannikov and Kyrylo Andriiets.
At work, the most interesting thing for me is the process itself. First of all, you find out a lot of new things. Secondly, you surround yourself with talented and interesting people. Alongside the FireWay team, I created a connector, which refuels satellites in orbit, and with this, we won the NASA Space Apps Challenge 2020 Hackathon.

It is important to understand that in space, accords and projects are very long-term. Even now, if everything works out with our team, then our connector will fly in approximately 2026-2028. I want to fly to space myself to undertake such a journey, you can gather many interesting people around you in the process of going there.

Our collaboration started with my acquaintance with the talented engineer Ivan Hryshko. He was my flatmate and was involved in developing rockets even during his student days. Subsequently, other participants joined us, amongst whom there is even a female astrophysicist Olena Kompaniiets. She came from science and helped with everything that concerned physics, and subsequently became the face of the team. We also have a talisman in our team: it is a cat which I found on the street.

At work, the most important thing is to be honest with yourself and your team. Without this, it is impossible to grow and improve your skills. FireWay is a six-person team, and we have found a common language. Everyone got on with their task during hackathons. Without arguments, everyone listened to and heard each other: this is how we won.

The cosmos enthralled me at 15, when with the appearance of the cable network which preceded the internet I downloaded and watched my first films about ecological catastrophes, pollution and global warming. I was always interested in physics and astrophysics. Although in my childhood, I usually dreamed of becoming president.

In due course, I became fascinated with Elon Musk's idea of flight to Mars. I hope to one day complete such a journey. I am really a researcher: I have always been attracted to the study of new, inventions and discoveries. It is a peculiar feature of my character that is not present in all people.
There are just people who cannot sit idly. Based on my observations, this is about three percent of people. However, it is exactly these people that move civilisation forward
We have the cheapest internet in the world, and access to technology is some of the best. In recent times, the IT and creative industries in Ukraine have developed vigorously. They often work in synergy and are concentrated in the same place, a shining example of which is Unit City in Kyiv (the first innovation park in Ukraine, which is developing an ecosystem for innovative technology companies), there are numerous hubs and coworking spaces in Podil (a historical area, one of the central regions in Kyiv), which are forming a young creative community around themselves.

The atmosphere of creativity and constant exchange of experience helps us to find new approaches and directions in project development. We follow our colleagues' successes, and ourselves strive to create more that is new and useful for the world. The teams from Tesla and SpaceX are fanatics of their work. Every person is willing to spend all their time and energy on an important project.

The idea for the connector arose during a joint brainstorm. We were considering different directions for participation in the hackathon, in particular data analysis. However, we understood that we needed to bring the potential of our engineers into play, to create a defined system. We arrived with a prototype that had already been prepared, a good description and we had a model that we could load in a 3D printer to print the device itself.

Our team developed a prototype of a connector that can extend the life of satellites, reduce the quantity of space junk and increase the gains from one launch. I hope that henceforth, space start-ups will appear in Ukraine.

In Ukraine, it is possible to gather a powerful team and do great things. It is a land of freedom and opportunity
In Ukraine, the school of mathematics and engineering is very strong. I will be happy if our project inspires other specialists to create something innovative. For example, a large market for microsatellites, which are smaller in size than a standard smartphone, is opening up now.

Ukraine now is not only a human capital and fertile lands, it is also the spirit of freedom. Foreigners who come to Ukraine understand this just from walking around Kyiv: to live in Ukraine means to feel like a free person.

Over the course of Ukraine's 30 years of independence, a middle class has been born. Here a person who understands trends well and is an enterprising character can set up a successful business with ease. There are fewer limits for career development, more opportunities.

Ukrainians have already proved that they are able to create interesting projects, quickly react to important changes and demonstrate high-level engineering thought